The Oscars can be just as much about fashion as they are about films, and the 2012 Academy Awards were no different. This year, there were some distinct color themes, particularly red, white, and gold. Last year’s Best Actress winner for Black Swan, Natalie Portman, was especially lovely in vintage Christian Dior. Portman, who is the face of Dior Cheri, donned a gorgeous 1954 polka dotted number. Michelle Williams, who received her third Oscar nomination this year for her role as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, was a favorite that Sunday evening in a stunning red strapless tulle Louis Vuitton gown. The bow brooch at the middle of the dress was the perfect cherry on top of her red carpet look.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo actress and Oscar nominee Rooney Mara wore a white Givenchy gown with harsh origami-like features and an odd structure. The dress was too loose on her and she looked a little lost in it. Mara looked beautiful, but the color washed her out, with her already pale complexion and her jet-black hair. The whole look seemed too severe, and was reminiscent of a red carpet version of her character Lisbeth Salander. Gwyneth Paltrow went for the simple yet elegant look in a floor-length white Tom Ford gown. The ensemble was completed with a sleek ponytail and a matching floor-length cape. Paltrow called this red carpet experience her “Jackie O” moment, and it was nice to see some old Hollywood fashion sense. A big winner of the night, Meryl Streep, was decked out in gold Lanvin. The dress suited her blond locks and physique, while also resembling an Oscar itself. The Help star Jessica Chastain was an absolute knockout in Alexander McQueen. Her red hair paired perfectly with the black and gold swirled accents of the gown, and she couldn’t have picked a better dress for her Oscar premiere. The McQueen was a fan favorite of the night, and will most likely be a popular Oscar memory for years to come.
George Clooney’s new squeeze, former female wrestler Stacy Keibler, walked the red carpet in a gold Marchesa gown, a pretty but relatively non-daring fashion venture. Angelina Jolie was a much talked about fashion subject in black Versace. The dress featured a slit up the right leg, and she worked that leg on both the red carpet and while presenting. The dress was nothing new for her, but the leg caused quite a bit of buzz, furthering her stature as a sex symbol. Glenn Close was a surprising fashion win in Zac Posen. The actress has definitely aged well and wasn’t afraid to show it. While Close is no Helen Mirren, the tight fitting black number with a matching and elegant suit jacket was a wonderful and sexy choice for her big night. Presenter Milla Jovovich was old style Hollywood gorgeous in Elie Saab. It was her first time at the Oscars, and she was a vision. The one-shouldered lush sparked gown was perfectly paired with her loose, wavy hair and her bright red lips. Jovovich was easily one of the best-dressed of the evening. Unfortunately, nominee Viola Davis was a miss in green Vera Wang. She looked very offbeat and eccentric, which is usually wonderful on the red carpet. However, the dress did nothing for her and was too much of a contrast to her short red hair. The Artist actress Bérénice Bejo was another disappointment in mint green Elie Saab couture. It was a pretty dress, but far too old for her. Elie Saab can be modestly elegant, which is good, but Bejo should have chosen a more daring gown to take her from a silent film beauty to a modern style icon.
The red carpet fashion this year was a bit of a disappointment, with Emma Stone’s Giambattista Valli red bowed sack of a dress and the overall lack adventure on the red carpet. The dresses, for the most part, were safe choices. Stars like Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz donned gowns that feel like repeats of every other dress they have ever worn. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Tina Fey all looked very lovely, but the dresses are not the memorable kind. Gowns of past Oscar nights have set a high standard. Hilary Swank in the famous Guy Laroche backless gown in 2005 was stunning, Natalie Portman in shimmering Lanvin in 2005 looked like a Greek goddess, and Michelle Williams in mustard yellow Vera Wang in 2006 was breathtaking. Hopefully the 85th Academy Awards will feature groundbreaking fashion.